Deer Liver Pâté
Rick isn't a big fan of liver, but he'll eat this. If you recall, our Tagliatelle with Rich Three Meat Sauce recipe also had liver in it, and he happily ate it all up. I think it all depends on how you prepare liver. If someone gave me a hunk of it on a plate, I wouldn't eat it neither. But dress it up a bit, and this under-appreciated organ turns into something completely different. I grew up eating pâté so it's nothing new to me.
While I was sautéing the ingredients, I was afraid that the finished product would retain too much of its livery, gamey smell. The liver we pulled from the whitetail Rick recently shot was extremely bloody. (Don't freak out if your kitchen looks like a murder scene after you're all done.) I wondered if it mattered that the liver came from a wild animal because pork or chicken pâté you get from the store really doesn't smell like liver at all. It smells-- nice, actually. But here's what we discovered. The secret to smoothing out liver's strong gamey smell and taste is brandy. That's right! Alcohol fixes everything. Spread the pâté on crackers; use it as a condiment in sandwiches; serve it with capers or even jellies and jams. I love it with crackers and a tiny dollop of boysenberry preserve on top.
So the next time you field dress a deer, save the liver instead of leaving it for the coyotes. You may be surprised by what you can actually do with it. If you still absolutely don't like liver-- well then, forget all I just said. We promise the next recipe won't have any liver in it.
Servings: 16-20 ounces
Prep and Cooking Time: 2 hours
Set time: 3 hours (in refrigerator)
- 1 venison liver (about 1.5 lb)
- buttermilk (for soaking liver)
- 1 1/2 tsp. of juniper berries, finely crushed
- 2 tbs. of shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup of onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 tbs. of unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup of brandy (plus extra in case if mixture is too dry)
- 1/4 cup of whipping cream (plus extra)
- 1/8 tsp. each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp. of fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter
- kosher salt, to taste
For those who don't hunt, this is what a deer liver looks like. It was red fresh out of the deer, but after spending a few days in an ice chest, some of the blood has oxidized, turning the liver rather dark.
1. Remove any veins, dark spots and tough outer film from the liver. Cut into 1/2- inch pieces. Run under cold water to wash as much blood away as possible.
See? What'd I tell you about it looking like a murder scene?
Then, put the pieces in a ziplock bag. Submerge with buttermilk and refrigerate for at least one hour.
After the hour, drain the liver and discard buttermilk. Rinse under cold water. Dab dry with paper towels. Set aside.
2. Melt 2 tbs. of butter over medium heat in a sauté pan.
When butter stops foaming, sauté liver, shallots, onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme until livers are just stiffened but still rosy inside. About 5-8 minutes. Slice one open to test.
Then mix in ground juniper berries, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and cracked pepper. Take off heat.
3. In a small saucepan, reduce 1/3 cup of brandy to 3 tablespoons.
In a food processor, combine liver mixture, reduced brandy and whipping cream. Blend until smooth. Then pour in 1/2 cup of melted butter and blend to combine. If it's too thick, add more brandy(no need to reduce) and/or whipping cream.
Hey Jamba Juice, we have a new smoothie idea for you!
4. Place a bowl underneath a fine mesh sieve. Pour liver mixture into the sieve. With a spatula, push and scrape the mixture through the sieve. This helps to get rid of stray rosemary bits to make your paté smooth.
Add salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Pack the pâté into any jars or containers you like. Then chill for at least 3 hours.
**Note: Since making this, we learned that packing the jars as best you can with no air bubbles (unlike the photo) will help to prevent early spoilage. Sealing the tops with melted butter will also help keep air out.**
You can also give them as gifts. Just tie a bow around it. Bring paté to Christmas dinner instead fruit cake this year... ;-)
We hope you enjoy this recipe!